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Michael Rielly

Arthur Rankin Jr, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ co-producer dies, age 89

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Michael Rielly

Arthur Rankin Jr, ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ co-producer dies, age 89

 

The Royal Gazette

By Jonathan Bell
January 31, 2014
 
EXCERPT:
 
Broadcasting legend Arthur Rankin Jr — the animator, producer and director behind some of television’s most enduring holiday specials — has died in his 90th year following a bout of illness.
 
Bermuda’s own movie mogul, who cornered the market for Christmas specials with his US partner Jules Bass, passed away yesterday morning at his home by Harrington Sound.
 
Starting in the early 1960s, Mr Rankin won the hearts of TV audiences with whimsical stop-motion animation.
 
His company, Rankin/Bass Productions, created perennial classics such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” that made broadcast history.
 
He is survived by his wife Olga, a Greek-born actress who in 2010 became the oldest newly graduated lawyer called to the Bermuda Bar — as well as sons Todd and Gardner.
 
“A great man of innate curiosity who gave so willingly of his time — I was blessed to be in his circle of friends,” said Masterworks Foundation head Tom Butterfield, who recalled Mr Rankin as a man of “wry humour and humanity who liked people that marched to a slightly different drum”.
 
Born in New York City in 1924 to actors Arthur Rankin and Marian Manfield, Mr Rankin was a self-made filmmaker whose career spanned the history of the medium — starting as art director at ABC in the late 1940s.
 
“These were days when no one knew anything about television,” he told The Mid-Ocean News in 1996. “I painted sets and did graphic design.”
 
Mr Butterfield described Mr Rankin as someone “born at the time of silent film, who finished life in 3-D”.
 
Acting ran in the family: his grandfather, Harry Davenport, played Dr Meade in 1939’s ‘Gone with the Wind’.
 
“Arthur started with a flashlight in movie theatres to show people to their seats at the age of nine, and ended up a director.
 
“One of his greatest aspects was that he’d only ask of others what he would expect of himself — and he expected perfection,” Mr Butterfield said.
 
Mr Rankin and Mr Bass set out in 1960 with Videocraft International, which later became their eponymous business.
 
Stop-motion was a painstaking and obscure technique when “Rudolph” burst onto the scene, followed by “Frosty the Snowman”, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, “A Year Without a Santa Claus” and a slew of other specials.
 
“Christmas has been good to me,” Mr Rankin would remark in 1996.
 
He wrote, produced or directed more than a dozen feature films, including two of just three feature-length films shot in Bermuda: the 1978 cult classic “The Bermuda Depths” and 1980s “The Ivory Ape” — as well as the animated TV series “ThunderCats” and “SilverHawks”, on top of more than 1,000 TV programmes.
 
In 1999, with “Rudolph” and others still going strong and a huge market growing for Rankin/Bass memorabilia, the US weekly TV Guide declared him the “Santa Claus of holiday programming”.
 
“He loved the world of fantasy and make-believe, of better places that would take people away from the drudgeries of the everyday,” Mr Butterfield said.
 
A quiet philanthropist, Mr Rankin helped Mr Butterfield bring the Masterworks Museum to reality — and avoided publicity in his support of many other local causes.
 
His lectures on film at the Bermuda College, launched in 1996, proved wildly popular.
 
“It’s hard to be good at anything,” Mr Rankin reflected at the time. “If you’re passionate, the chances are that you will find a job that will make you happy.”
 
Mr Butterfield described Mr Rankin as a keen listener who was generous with his counsel.
 
“He was never perfunctory — it was always done with a sense of real commitment,” he said.
 
Such openness could explain Mr Rankin’s pioneering use of celebrities to voice his animation, well before the practice was popularised by recently blockbusters.
 
...
 
“Today, I celebrate every moment we shared. I celebrate his triumphal long and successful career. Yes, I shall miss him — but for now, I celebrate, as I know he would want it that way.”
 

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Felix Estridge

With your vision, you have touched millions of hearts and minds, and, more importantly, their souls, Mr. Rankin.  Rest in peace and let the Father and Son take care of you now.

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SantaStephen

A great sigh was heard when this magic man left to meet his maker. Surely he was heartily welcomed and will help our Lord entertain the heavenly hosts and souls above.

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Santa Marty

A simpler, softer time..... RIP

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Santa Gordon

The inspiration of a generation of Santas.

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Santa Johnathan

Such an inspiration who has left his mark to surely inspire many more to come...a visionary. 

 

Rest in peace.

 

:candles:

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KKringle

A Man who touched all our lives with his creativity. His Legacy will live on every Christmas Season in some of the Greatest classic children's Specials. God Bless You Mr. Rankin. Rest in Peace.

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Mississippi Elf

Thank you Mr. Rankin for sharing your talent and passion with the rest of the world.  May you Rest Peacefully in the arms of God.

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Santa Walter B

Always a favorite of mine.  RIP and Thank You.

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SCSanta

Rest in Peace and thank you for all of the smiles!

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Santa Dave T

His movies will live on forever!  Thank You Mr Rankin!

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Kevin Fast

RIP - loved your work

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Santa Mike 19536

RIP and Thank You for Memories of Fantastic Storytelling!

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Elf Without Jingles

Only a few weeks ago, we lost beloved old Yukon Cornelius --- Larry Mann. Now the Legend himself is gone, too.

 

We join our colleague and friend Rick Goldschmidt, founder of   RankinBass.com and its just-recently launched sister site, MiserBros.com, in mourning the passing of a true television Legend.

 

There are just no words to describe our loss......

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Santa Hill

RIP sir, leave this earth knowing you have made a positive mark on so many people. Thank you so much.

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Ricky Claus

For a man whom brought great Christmas features and I am sure much more, you are never forgotten. God Bless the Family and may his legend live forever.

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Santa Leonard

Thank you for making childhood Christmas memories for me......RIP.

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Chatham Santa

In my mind's eye I can see Rudolph, Yukon Cornelius, the Bumble, Santa, the postman, Frosty, the Little Drummer boy, and all the others with their heads bowed and wiping a tear away.

 

Mr. Rankin, thank you for making my childhood, my children's childhood, and many more kids' childhoods more enjoyable by providing us with outstanding stories that have since passed the test of time.  You and your imagination will be sorely missed in this day and age.

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